Marvel has been nothing if not thorough throughout the lifespan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ramping up their various properties on a yearly basis. That said, 2017 may very well take the cake. The year is set to bring us six Marvel TV shows, a two-night IMAX premiere event for one of those shows, and three Marvel movies to round things out. The sum total is a collection of television and cinema that makes for Marvel Studios’ most ambitious calendar year ever. What exactly will this entail though? Let’s discuss.
1. Agents of SHIELD: LMD, ABC (Jan. 10)
Agents of SHIELD kicked off Marvel’s big year on Jan. 10, introducing a brand new plot arc following the more Ghost Rider-centric first half of Season 4 in 2016. For the uninitiated, “LMD” stands for “Life Model Decoys,” or lifelike androids that have traditionally come up as significant plot devices throughout Marvel’s comic book history.
For Agents, the LMD’s will introduce a heavy dose of chaos into the mix, with Melinda May currently finding herself captured and replaced by an identical robot counterpart. It’ll backseat Ghost Rider for now, with executive producer Jeffrey Bell admitting that including the character again would be “a lot for 22 [episodes].”
2. Iron Fist, Netflix (March 17)
Marvel’s year on Netflix began with the debut season of Iron Fist, as the MCU continues to bring decidedly more supernatural elements into the fold. The story follows Danny Rand, who in the comics spends his childhood learning to fight from the mysterious master K’un-Lun, eventually gaining the power of the Iron Fist after plunging his hands into the heart of a dragon.
The show’s mystical origin story set it apart from its Netflix predecessors in a big way.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
Guardians of the Galaxy sits atop a whole lot of “best of” lists when it comes to superhero cinema, putting that much more pressure on the sequel to measure up. Vol. 2 hits theaters in May, where it’ll prominently feature a pint-sized version of Groot who’s already captured the collective hearts of the fandom. James Gunn returns to direct, alongside the entirety of the original cast of heroes, as well as a couple new additions along the way.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
Sony’s deal with Marvel to share Spider-Man was a true win-win for both sides. For Sony, they got to breathe life into a dying franchise by including Spider-Man in the most lucrative superhero franchise in Hollywood. On Marvel’s side, they got to bring one of their most iconic heroes into the MCU fold. Tom Holland landed the rebooted role last year, when he appeared in Captain America: Civil War. Holland will take centerstage in 2017, headlining his own Spider-Man movie in Homecoming. Robert Downey Jr. will serve as the primary link to the MCU, in a role that appears to be significant if the early trailers are any indication.
5. The Defenders, Netflix (Aug. 18)
Billed by Marvel as a miniseries rather than a full-on multi-season show, The Defenders will bring together the entire Netflix lineup of heroes for an eight-episode team-up. The cast list right now is extensive, currently including Charlie Cox as Daredevil, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Finn Jones as Iron Fist, Elodie Yung as Elektra, as well as side-players Stick (Scott Glenn), Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), Misty Knight (Simone Missick), and Jeri Hogarth (Carrie Anne Moss).
Basically, think of this as the Netflix equivalent of The Avengers.
6. Inhumans, ABC (Sept. 1)
The Inhumans have been part of a long saga of delays and cancellations for years now, before they were first brought into the MCU by Season 3 of Agents of SHIELD (albeit sans the primary characters featured in the comics). After their standalone movie was removed from Marvel’s release schedule, many thought the studio would reserve them strictly for Agents on ABC.
That all changed last year though, when they announced a separate Inhumans TV series. The first two episodes will arrive in IMAX nationwide on Sept. 1, followed by the remaining episodes on ABC beginning Sept. 26, totaling eight installments for its initial run.
7. Runaways, Hulu (estimated late-2017)
Netflix isn’t the only streaming service Marvel will be teaming up with this year. Hulu scored its first standalone series after coming to terms in August 2016, with Runaways set to arrive sometime in late-2017.
Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage will head up the series, telling the story of a group of super-powered teenagers who discover their parents are secretly part of an evil organization known as the Pride, “a criminal group of mob bosses, time-travelers, dark wizards, mad scientists, alien invaders and telepathic mutants.” Having inherited many of their parents’ abilities, they team up to thwart the Pride’s nefarious agenda.
All in all, it should make for an interesting foray into Hulu for the MCU.
8. Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3)
Everything we’ve heard about Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok has indicated it will take a huge step away from the typical tone of Marvel movies. Mark Ruffalo himself dubbed it an “intergalactic buddy road movie,” while Waititi claimed the film is “inspired by ’70s/’80s sci-fi fantasy,” all pointing to a concerted effort to give us something entirely different.
We’ll have to wait until November to find out just how it accomplishes that goal, but with Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed to appear as Doctor Strange, there’s plenty to get excited about in the meantime.
9. The Punisher (estimated late-2017)
Originally slated for a one-off appearance in the second season of Daredevil, Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of the Punisher ended up taking on a life of its own. The result: a green-light from Marvel for a full-on standalone series, set to arrive on Netflix in late-2017.
Hannibal mastermind Steve Lightfoot has been tagged as the showrunner, with the show promising to bring us back to Frank Castle’s origin story, eventually transforming him into the Punisher we see in Daredevil.
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